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Kashrut 3: Oops! Wrong Pot!
by Rabbi Dovid Bendory, I Adar 25 5765 (March 6, 2005)
Oh no! I used the wrong pot! What do I do now!?
First, stay calm! Not only is your kitchen still kosher, if the conditions
are right, the food may still be kosher too! Even if the food isn't kosher, the
pot can almost certainly be kashered. Let's go through the details so we
can understand the halacha.
We'll need to understand a few concepts to understand the halacha, so let me
introduce the concepts first.
Noten ta'am lifgam — literally, "it gives a spoiled taste."
After 24 hours, the absorbed tastes in the pot
are lifgam, spoiled, and the pot is noten ta'am lifgam.
Ben yomo - a ben yomo pot has been used for food of its given
type within the past 24 hours. For example, a dairy pot that was last used
to cook milk today at noon is ben yomo until tomorrow at noon. The
absorbed tastes in a ben yomo pot are considered to be "fresh"
— that is, they are not lifgam.
Aino ben yomo - an aino ben yomo pot has not been used for
food of its given type within the past 24 hours. For example, a dairy pot
that was last used to cook milk today at noon is aino ben yomo
tomorrow at 12:00:01 pm. The absorbed tastes in an aino ben yomo pot are
lifgam. Note that the pot is only ben yomo if used to cook
food of its given type, so if I cook milk today at noon and pareve pasta at
11:00 pm tonight, the pot is still aino ben yomo after noon tomorrow
— there is no need to wait 24 hours from the pasta. In other words,
the milk tastes are still lifgam after noon; they are not "refreshed"
by cooking the pareve food in the interim.
(Note that these rules apply to all tastes absorbed
in utensils. I am using a pot as an example, but this similarly applies
to spoons, grills, countertops, sinks, etc. Also note that these rules apply
to meat, milk, and other absorbed kosher tastes. The rules are a bit
different if there is nonkosher involved.)
OK, now let's see how we apply these concepts. In particular, what happens when
you use the wrong pot?
Well, let's say that you used a ben yomo meat pot to cook a pot of
oatmeal with milk. What tastes were transfered in the process? We'll need to
cover two issues: the meat pot and the food in it.
The Meat Pot
Certainly the meat pot absorbed the dairy tastes of the milk in the oatmeal.
These dairy tastes mix with the previously absorbed meat tastes in the pot. The
meat pot is now permeated with both meat and dairy tastes; it can no longer be
used to cook and must be kashered.
The oatmeal and milk have absorbed meat tastes from the pot, and since the
pot is ben yomo these tastes are fresh. The food is now a mixture of milk
and meat; it is not kosher and must be discarded.
So in this case, both the food and pot are not kosher.
Questions to ponder:
Back to Lo Ba'Shamayim Hi
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